Kids love to snack, and as Moms, we want to give them healthy snacks that they’ll like to eat. I have to say that I get made fun of a little for the unusual things my kids like, so I know I have it a bit easier than others, but maybe one of these healthy snacks will become a hit in your household.
In general, I feel like I have a grip on balanced dinners, but regularly providing healthy snacks is harder to manage, especially on the run. My kids are always hungry, I can’t imagine what the teen-boy years will be like when my 11 year old son is already constantly ravenous.
It seems that most packaged, easy-to-grab snacks fall into the category of carbs, sweets and junk. Sure we have tortilla chips or pretzel rods, and lot’s of fruit, but we also have some fun, healthy snacks that are family favorites.
Pumpkin pops came about by accident years ago. I’d frozen plain, packed pumpkin from a can in ice cube trays to serve to my toddler, but when I defrosted and heated it up with a little cinnamon, she never really liked it. One day, I pulled out the freezer bag full of pumpkin cubes and laid them on the table as I cleared out the freezer. A little voice piped up, “Can I have one?” Of course, I answered, “Sure!”
She ate five cubes that day, so the bag went back into the freezer. After that we made them in the ice cube tray but with popsicle sticks. Pumpkin pops became a requested treat or dessert (loaded with vitamin A and beta carotene). These have fizzled out in our house as the kids have learned about real popsicles and icy treats, but they were a boon for years!
Kale chips remain an absolute favorite and are easy to have the kids help you prepare. Made this way, we eat a whole huge bundle of kale in an afternoon. Wash the kale and break the leaves into small pieces discarding the thick stalks. Toss them into a bowl and coat all the leaves with olive oil, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and bake at 350 in a single layer on a cookie sheet (it will take several trays and batches). I mix them at about 5-6 minutes then cook for another few minutes.
You need to watch them because they can quickly go from crispy and green (perfect) to crispy and brown (kids still eat them but I don’t care for them and I figure they’ve lost some nutritional value at that point). They’re gone in no time flat! Husbands like kale chips, too, I’ve made them for postpartum doula clients who’ve made them part of their healthy snack repertoire.
Sometimes just getting creative makes snack time more fun. Make faces of veggies or patterns with fruit. Try to give things goofy names like monster mush or witches potion for a smoothie or cut things into funny shapes with cookie cutters like star cucumbers or heart mini sandwiches.
Get innovative by serving healthy snacks in a unique way. Sunflower seeds in a paper or silicon muffin cup or raisins presented in tiny sauce dishes (kids love little things) are inventive ways to cheer up munchies. Try letting your kids schlurp up unsweetened apple sauce through a straw, it’s gross, but also a good occupational therapy trick, and they’ll love it!
Here’s where I get teased, my kids love sardines and seaweed and they ask for extra wheat germ and flax seed in their yogurt. Once I was on the phone with my brother and my son burst into the room loudly asking, “Can we have sardines?” my brother heard and mocked me for weeks, “Seriously, what four year old likes sardines?”
Some other quick and healthy snacks we enjoy: peanut butter and bananas rolled into whole wheat wraps, homemade banana bread with half whole wheat flour and added wheat germ and milled flax seed or a veggie plate with hummus. I also add wheat germ and flax seed to smoothies, you can throw most anything into a smoothie to add more nutrition. When I have some overripe bananas and no time to make banana bread, I peel and freeze them. Frozen bananas have become an easy and healthy snack that even my daughter who’s not a banana-fan loves.
Homemade banana “ice cream” is another way to use very ripe bananas. Take frozen bananas (pre-peeled is easier), blend them with cocoa powder and a little milk (rice, soy or almond milk work,
too). Once it’s all blended well, refreeze it in individual-sized cups or plastic containers for a healthy snack later. It amazingly has the taste and texture of chocolate ice cream, but it’s completely healthy!
Share your family’s favorite creative and healthy snacks.
© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2012